At some point the Roman Empire stretched from the North of Britain, through Europe, to the lands of North Africa. The limites represented the borders of this vast empire. In Limes, a two-player game from Martyn F, you create your own empire. You must protect your fertile farmlands, your fishing grounds and your beautiful forests from the barbaric hordes by cleverly building watchtowers with garrisons of well armed watchmen. Only then your empire will thrive.
What do you get for your money?
You get 48 landscape cards and 14 workers in two colours.
How do you play the game?
Every player takes their meeples and a set of twenty-four numbered cards. One player shuffles his stack the other keeps it in order. The first player draws a card, calls out the number and the other player draws the same card from her stack. Then both players place their card into their, imaginary, four by four grid. Every new card has to be placed adjacent to another card in their tableau.
After they have placed this card, they may also place a meeple on a zone on that card or move a meeple from one territory to another adjacent territory. A territory is an accumulation of more than one zone of the same type. There are four different zones with different ways of scoring points. There are forest, field, water and rock zones.
When you’ve placed a meeple in a forest territory, it will score one point for every territory that is vertically or horizontally adjacent. A meeple in a field scores one point for each field zone in that field territory. Sometimes there are fisherman’s huts located in one or more zones on a card. When a meeple has been placed in a water territory, it will score one point for each hut that is directly next to the lake. Lastly, you can score point for the watchman meeples on the watchtowers located on the rock territories. They will earn you one point for each forest zone that the watchman can see from his tower in a horizontal or vertical direction. His view is always blocked by other watchtowers in his line of sight.
Points are counted after the game ends and that is when both players have placed their sixteenth card in their four by four grid.
Limes is a tile laying game, but you probably would have guessed that from the description above. It can be played with two players. As a matter of fact, it can be played with a hundred players if you are willing to buy fifty copies. However it really is a solo game. There is absolutely no interaction at all between the players.
No no, I’m lying. There’s that moment where one of you announces the card number and then the other goes like ‘Ok, thanks’ and takes that from her stack.
All joking aside, you both are solving your own puzzle. It’s not really a puzzle, because it hasn’t got a fixed solution, but it sure feels like it.
In Limes you are constantly trying to place the tiles in such way that you will get the most points from the different territories in your tableau or at least give you the best chance to score a lot of points. However there are times, especially near the end, when you just have to minimize the damage.
Sometimes you just have to take a chance and it not always works out the way you want it. Every player has twenty-four cards at the beginning, but only sixteen of them are used, so the tiles you want might not show up or show up too late, or maybe are already placed somewhere else.
When some territory does not score as many points as you like, you can also move your meeple to another one. This, however, is not a very efficient way to get your guys at the right spot. You would think that having sixteen turns to get your seven meeples in the preferred areas is quite enough, but that’s not always the case. At the end of the game there’s always the feeling of ‘better a few points than no points at all’ when you place your last meeples.
You can score points in four different ways, but there is one way, the fields, that potentially can give you, if you do it right, a lot more points than the others. But fields just aren’t available enough and so you also have to score well with the lesser scoring zones. So don’t think that you can win easily, or score a lot of points, only with placing your meeples on these fields. There are just to few of them for the amount of meeples you have to place. So all in all, the game feels quit balanced. There is no single way to go, you have to spread your chances.
As far as the theme goes, I’d say there is none. They do have pasted on a theme that fits. Although it’s very much an abstract game, the different areas add a little flavour to the game.
So yes. I like it that they have pasted a theme onto the game. They could have easily just used tiles with zones in four basic colours, like red, yellow, blue and green. Just a clean look, no frills. That wouldn’t chance anything to the game. Now the fields, forest and waters have nice bright colours and it all looks pretty colourful. It’s not a spectacular look, but it has a nice flavour.
Quality of the components:
There is nothing really bad to say about the quality of the components. The box is a bit too big for what you’ll find inside, that the only negative thing I can say about it.
Is Limes fun? Let me say it’s not not fun, by which I clearly state that I’m not incredibly excited about it. As a solo game it is pretty nice; a quick pattern building game, a puzzly optimization exercise. The two-player experience is exactly the same, there’s no interaction at all. For me interaction is a prerequisite for a game for two, because otherwise we could have stayed on the couch, watch TV.
As a solo game, pretty OK. As a two-player game it falls short.